On-line home tracker Zillow came out with a report today that confirms what buyers and real estate agents have been saying since spring: The number of homes for sale in the Sacramento region has plummeted in the past year.
That's especially true in the lower price range, where investors and first-time buyers are competing for bargains, with investors usually winning out, the Seattle-based real estate tracking firm said. The inventory of homes in the bottom bracket - priced under about $160,000 - fell by 55 percent from September 2011 to September 2012, Zillow said.
The dramatic drop in available homes comes at a time of maximum affordability - with low prices and near-record-low interest rates. Only a fraction of the population can take advantage of conditions; many owe more than their homes are worth or face other economic circumstances that prevent them from buying. Even those who can afford to buy are hampered by the extremely limited supply, experts say.
"First-time homebuyers are being squeezed out of the market by falling inventory and the rapid influx of investors looking to buy basic homes to rent out to the growing population of people who have recently been foreclosed upon," said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries. "Investors are paying in cash and can close sooner, which is more favorable to banks and homeowners looking to sell."
In comparison, the inventory of lower-priced homes fell by about 43 percent across California in the past year and by about 15 percent nationally, Zillow said. Only Fresno saw a larger percentage drop than Sacramento, with a 59 percent decrease in the inventory of lower-priced homes.
Among the 50 states, California had the highest rate of inventory reductions across all three housing tiers - top, middle and bottom - according to Zillow.
In Sacramento, Zillow places the middle tier for 2012 at roughly $161,000 to $282,000. That segment experienced a 48 percent drop in inventory. The top tier of homes, priced above $282,000, saw a 28 percent decrease, the firm said.
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